Governance by Indicators: A New Book

Taking Measure: New IILJ Book Examines the Increasing Use of “Indicators” to Guide Investment and Policy

In growing numbers, national and transnational government agencies, NGOs, and private consultancies are producing rankings of everything from corporate governance to health care and human trafficking to “state fragility” – and increasingly, these rankings are playing a crucial role in global allocation of funds and resources. Examples include the Political Risk Index, produced by a private consultancy to guide investors on where to invest and immunization-coverage assessments prepared by the World Health Organization that help determine a country’s eligibility for of vaccination program funding. But what are the implications of our increasing reliance on such rankings to guide policy and investment? What pitfalls do they present? What kind of oversight ought they be subject to? How should governments use or challenge global ratings and rankings? These are among the issues being examined by NYU Law’s Institute for International Law & Justice (IILJ) through its Indicators as a Global Technology/Governance by Information Project. (“Indicator” is essentially synonymous with ranking.) The IILJ has just published a book, Governance by Indicators: Global Power through Quantification and Rankings, that was edited (and in good part written) by four NYU Law-affiliated scholars: Kevin Davis, vice dean and Beller Family Professor of Business Law; Angelina Fisher(LL.M. ’04) adjunct professor and IILJ program director; Benedict Kingsbury, Murry and Ida BeckerProfessor of Law and IILJ faculty director; and Sally Engle Merry, professor of anthropology and law and society. Read the complete description of the book on the NYU website.